Walsh Whiskey and Illva Saronno split after dispute

Ireland’s Walsh Whiskey and Italian drinks group Illva Saronno, which owns brands Disaronno and Tia Maria, have parted ways following a dispute about the future of the combined business.

Bernard and Rosemary Walsh’s company will retain control of brands Writers’ Tears and The Irishman.

As a result of the split, Illva Saronno will be launching its own Irish whiskey while Walsh Whiskey will take full control of existing brands Writers’ Tears and the Irishman.

In a statement on the Walsh Whiskey website, the company announced that its directors had decided to split the business “by separating out the existing drinks brands business”.

It added that “current sales, marketing and distilling objectives are being fully met,” but that the dispute arose based on the Irish and Italian directors’ different opinions on how “to develop the combined business into the future”.

As a result, Illva Saronno will take full ownership of the distillery in Co Carlow, which it will rename Royal Oak Distillery. Distilling malt, pot and grain styles of Irish whiskey, the Italian drinks group states that it will focus on “continuously improving its technology and processes” and “enhancing the visitor experience”.

Meanwhile Walsh Whiskey, headed up by Bernard and Rosemary Walsh, will have full control of existing Irish whiskey brands Writers’ Tears and The Irishman, which are currently sold in 50 countries worldwide. It will continue to trade under the name Walsh Whiskey.

The separation of the business is effective immediately and no redundancies are expected

Illva Saronno invested €25 million in Walsh Whiskey for a 50% stake in the business in 2013.

Walsh Whiskey was founded in 1999. It opened its 8 million bottle-capacity distillery and visitor centre (now renamed Royal Oak) in June 2016.

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